“One tequila, two tequila, three tequila, floor.” Tequila used to be fun.
Now? It’s certainly more refined. But it’s also gotten a little stiff in the collar.
Can tequila be playful in spirit and a great spirit on its own? That’s a question we answer today, on National Tequila Day, with the help of JAJA Tequila (pronounced “haha”), aka what happens when Instagram’s most viral account decides to celebrate an iconic tipple in its own way.
First, some background. If you’re over the age of, say, 30, you might not know @fuckjerry. What started as Elliot Tebele’s viral and funny Instagram account (now at 13.7 million followers) is now a real business called Jerry Media, the social-media agency behind some memorable marketing campaigns. Jaja is really their second consumer product, after the success of the What Do You Meme? game.
What makes the tequila different isn’t so much the liquid itself — we’ll get to that in a minute — but how it’s being positioned. Through @fuckjerry and associated platforms, Jaja has the potential to reach 40-50 million people in a way most liquor companies have never thought to try. It’s possibly the first digital-specific spirit, one where influencers, Instagram Stories and phrases like “high engagement” are more important than awards or display cases at the local liquor store.
“This is a completely separate entity from FuckJerry and JerryMedia,” says Elliot, who had us over for drinks, along with his Jaja co-founders Martin Hoffstein and Maurice Tebele (Elliot’s brother). Having said that, the company has been leveraging its social media and influencer networks with cryptic clues for months on the tequila’s launch.
“We see a ton of opportunity in the spirit space,” says Hoffstein, Elliot’s best friend from childhood and a veteran of shopping portals Fancy and Spring. “We love tequila — that’s what really started us on this. But we noticed nothing really stands out. There’s no Tito’s ... it’s all super authentic Don This or Don That. We wanted to spin this on its head, and create something that’s not serious, but fun and inclusive.”
Hence the name. “We were all mulling over what to call it, and Elliot said that randomly but didn’t think it was good,” says Maurice. “But we all liked it. Plus, it references Jalisco and it’s ‘haha’ — it’s funny. And FuckJerry is about making people laugh.”
If the liquor snob in you just revolted a bit, relax. Purely looking at Jaja on its own, the spirit hits the right notes: it’s sustainably made, small batch, gluten free and distilled three times in separate copper-lined stainless pots in Jalisco, Mexico (the agave’s from the highlands, the distillery is in the lowlands). It’s made by the same company that produces Casa Noble, a tequila we’ve admired in the past. And the brand has a charitable component as well, partnering with the Tequila Interchange Project to support bat-friendly farms and preserve traditional practices in tequila production.
But on to the booze: we tried the blanco and reposado, both neat and then with a single ice cube. It’s a decidedly approachable tipple, one that seems built for cocktails but works well on its own. You’re not going to linger on different tasting notes or talk about “what’s on the nose.” It’s good and unpretentious, the Matisse and Rothko influences on the bottle’s artwork notwithstanding. It’ll work well in a crowd.
“Most people who don’t like drinking tequila straight who try this ... they’re like, oh, wow!,” agrees Elliot.
“I think a 28-year old would have this on their shelves,” says Hoffstein. “And his father wouldn’t knock it.”
JAJA is available in stores and via Drizly in a blanco, reposado and, soon, an anejo, starting at $39.95.